Anabolic androgenic steroids induce micronuclei in buccal mucosa cells of bodybuilders

Br J Sports Med. 2007 Sep;41(9):592-6; discussion 596. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2006.032474. Epub 2007 May 14.


Objective: To evaluate genotoxicity of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) in male bodybuilders by a micronucleus assay in buccal mucosa cells.

Methods: 11 male bodybuilders volunteered to participate in this study and two groups were formed: group 1 (n = 6), without AAS consumption and group 2 (n = 5), with AAS consumption. A sample of buccal epithelium was taken from each participant once a week for 6 weeks. Samples were fixed, stained and analysed by a light microscope, and 2000 cells were counted from each slide. Results are expressed as micronucleated cells (MNC) per 1000 cells and were analysed by the Mann-Whitney U test and Wilcoxon's test.

Results: A marked increased in MNC was seen in bodybuilders with AAS consumption compared with those without AAS consumption (mean (SD) 4.1 (2.4) MNC/1000 cells vs 0.4 (0.4) MNC/1000 cells, respectively; p<0.004). Intragroup comparisons showed no differences in the MNC frequencies during the sampling time in group 1, whereas the MNC frequency in group 2 varied significantly, reaching the highest MNC frequencies in the third and fourth week of sampling (5.9 (2.4) MNC/1000 cells; 5.8 (1.8) MNC/1000 cells, respectively); frequency in the first sampled week was 1.1 (0.1) MNC/1000 cells. Significant differences in all sampled weeks were found between the two groups.

Conclusion: AAS consumption increased the frequency of MNC from buccal mucosa in bodybuilders.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anabolic Agents / toxicity*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemically induced*
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology*
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Anabolic Agents